This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Bentley Continental GT Coupe review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Up to 642hp available in W12 guise
  • More efficient V8s sound sportier
  • Twin-turbos whichever you choose

Heritage is the name of the game at Bentley, so there are no efficient hybrids or diesels in the Continental GT line-up – just a pair of large petrol engines, each blessed with not one, but two turbos.

V8 power for relative discretion

It's debatable whether a twin-turbo, 4.0-litre V8 engine is that inconspicuous, but it’s the entry point of the Continental GT range.

Its throaty exhaust note is steeped in desirability so it never feels like you’ve scrimped if this is the one you plump for, but unsurprisingly it is – fractionally – the range’s most frugal offering. Not that an official claim of 26.8mpg is the most important statistic when shopping for a powerful coupe, so instead relish the prospect of 507hp at a sonorous 6,000rpm and an impressive 660Nm of torque from just 1,400rpm. That’s enough for a 190mph top speed, requiring just 4.8 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph.

Sharing the basic powerplant but with uprated performance is the V8 S: you’re looking at 192mph and 4.5 seconds for the 0-62mph time here, courtesy of 528hp and 680Nm of torque, albeit from 1,700rpm.

Unusual W12 engine for the flagships

Engines in high-performance cars usually come with their cylinders in a V-configuration, but the 6.0-litre twin-turbo Volkswagen-sourced unit Bentley employs has its 12 arranged in a W. In essence it’s two V6 units sat side-by-side, hence the pattern looks (something) like a W when viewed end-on.

Although the cars carry W12 badging, models fitted with this powerplant are known simply as Continental GT – no contrived naming here. Instead it lets its 590hp output do the talking – that’s sufficient to propel the Bentley on to a top speed of 198mph. There’s 720Nm of torque on offer from 1,800rpm but its 4.5-second 0-62mph time merely matches the V8 S.

Topping the range is the GT Speed, with further power and torque increases up to 642hp and 840Nm at 2,000rpm respectively. That shaves the 0-62mph time down to 4.1 seconds while the top speed is a claimed 206mph. Caress the throttle pedal at any speed and the Bentley surges forward relentlessly.

Regardless of engine choice, all GTs are fitted with a silken eight-speed automatic gearbox, with wonderfully tactile steering column wands for manual control over the ratio selection.

  • Heaviness blunts outright agility
  • Four-wheel drive enhances traction
  • Air suspension delivers poise

Despite the beautifully sculpted bodywork and rakish fastback styling, the Bentley Continental GT coupe looks like it’s heavy and the scales don’t lie. With the lightest in the range being a portly 2,295kg, that’s not a great recipe for agile handling.

What’s surprising is that it’s far from a disaster and for a large car it’s remarkably well-composed, in large part due to the standard-fit air suspension system.

Not only does this preserve poise when changing direction quickly, it also helps deliver a cosseting level of ride comfort, striking a fine compromise between sportiness and suppleness, albeit biased towards the latter.

Disappointingly that same detached sensation you get from the ride quality is found elsewhere in the Continental GT’s controls – there’s a satisfying weight to the steering wheel, pedals and gearchange paddles but none of them feel particularly involving to use. The message here isn’t a bad one, it’s simply that Bentley chooses to differentiate the Continental GT from its competition by focusing upon luxurious performance rather than an intrinsic ability to dart about.

Despite that remoteness relative to its rivals, you never feel unsure how it’s going to respond when you do ramp up speeds on winding back roads. Traction and roadholding are strong points courtesy of the Bentley’s all-wheel drive system, complemented by wide wheels. In slipperier conditions the Bentley is able to carry more speed through corners than its rear-wheel drive alternatives.

Although carbon ceramic brakes are optional, given the nature of the Continental GT we’d stick with the standard steel ones which provide ample stopping power. Consider the extra-cost items if you’re planning regular track driving escapades.